The Billionaire's Secrets

By: Meadow Taylor

CHAPTER 1




The fog was so thick that Chloe didn’t see the car until it was almost on top of her. Certainly, she didn’t have time to react. One moment she was slogging along the road bent under the weight of her bags and suitcases, and the next moment she was eye to eye with a Rolls-Royce hood ornament.

The car ground to a halt inches from her, and she could feel the warmth of the engine against her face. Blinded by the headlights, frozen with shock, she stood rooted to the spot, not even sure for a moment whether she had been hit or not. Then she heard the car door open and a man’s voice boomed out of the darkness. “What are you doing? Are you trying to get yourself killed?”

His voice penetrated the shock. Finally able to react, she let out a cry. She dropped her bags and staggered back from the car, only to trip over one of her suitcases and fall on her behind. “I . . . I didn’t see you,” she gasped. She raised her arm to shield her eyes from the glare of the lights, but still she could not see the owner of the voice.

Suddenly she became aware that while he wasn’t visible, she was definitely in the spotlight. Her coat and skirt were bunched up around her hips, her legs spread at an immodest angle. She felt a hole open up in her stocking over her knee. One of her cases had sprung open, and bright white bras, slips, and panties spilled onto the road. Feeling her face flush with embarrassment, she grabbed at the escaped lingerie and stuffed it into her old suitcase as she scrambled to her feet.

Without the headlights shining in her eyes, she was no longer blinded, though what she saw almost made her fall over again.

He was standing by the side of his car, his hands in the pockets of his long black cashmere coat, opened to reveal a pair of expensive jeans and a designer sweater. He was not wearing a hat, and his hair was black and thick. Hair to run your fingers through, she thought absurdly. The dense fog and the dark night suited him. Sexy, dark, mysterious, exuding wealth, he was so handsome that she wondered for a moment whether the car really had hit her. Maybe she was dead. But was he some heavenly angel or the devil himself? He looked angry enough to be the devil. His eyes flashed fire and his movie-star features were set in hard lines. “What the hell are you doing here, anyway?” he asked, his voice low and cold. “This is private property. And you are trespassing.”

Nervously, Chloe took a step back. “I’m looking for Widow’s Cliff,” she stammered. “It’s the name of a house—”

“I know it’s the name of a house,” he interrupted impatiently. “It happens to be my house. And who are you?”

“You’re Gaelan Byrne?” she asked in dismay. Perhaps she would have preferred him to be the devil. Preferable to meet the devil on a dark country road than to find out this man—so good-looking and yet so angry, downright rude, even—was her new employer!

“And who wants to know? You’re not another damned paparazzo, are you? I’m sick and tired of you people—why do you think I live way the hell out here?” The night was cold, and his words came out in clouds, merging with the fog.

“Paparazzo? No, no, of course not. I’m Chloe Winters.” As he still didn’t seem to understand, she added uncertainly, “The new tutor?” She started to extend her hand but decided against it, instead putting them both in her pockets. He didn’t look like he wanted to shake her hand. The interviewer had told her he was a widower, so she had expected someone older. Not even the fact that he had a six-year-old child had deterred her image of him as grey-haired. Old enough to be her father, old enough that a romantic relationship would be completely out of the question. After her last boyfriend, she wasn’t sure she ever wanted to be involved with another man again.

He said nothing, his expression morphing from anger into distaste. Maybe she didn’t need to worry—his bad manners were very quickly making up for his good looks. But then, bad manners were not very appealing in an employer, either. She felt a premonition of impending disaster.

“For your little girl,” she explained further with a sigh. Did he even know he’d advertised for a tutor? “I thought someone was supposed to meet me at the St. John’s airport. Nobody came. I figured maybe the car had broken down or something, and I didn’t have your phone number . . . I had to take a bus . . .” She was on a roll now, reciting the litany of disasters that had occurred since she left Boston that morning.

Really—she was the one who should be angry. She was the one who had stood around the airport all afternoon before catching a shuttle to Puffin’s Cove. Then the local bus driver had dropped her on the side of the highway, telling her the house was still a mile down a dirt road. Then this man almost ran her over with his fancy car. Her stockings were torn, she was freezing . . .

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